This Moment:   A Culmination of Sacrifice and Good Work  

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Yesterday, we ushered in a new era. Yesterday, we destroyed the remnants of Jim Crow, abolished a one-color-fits-all definition of leadership, and declared that our nation would rise above the politics of the past. Yesterday, we witnessed the most inclusive election, enjoyed by the largest, most informed and most motivated electorate in our nation’s history. Yesterday, we elected an African-American man as President of the United States of America.

We congratulate President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on their historic win. This moment is 232 years in the making. In this moment, we honor the memory of freedom fighters like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ida B. Wells, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, and so many others who gave their lives so that the promise of America can be real for all people. It is their sacrifice that made this moment possible.

Full electoral participation has always been a driving goal of the NAACP, and NAACP leaders and members around the country rose to the challenge. This election saw mobilization efforts previously unimaginable. We registered thousands of voters, on the ground and on the web, but it didn't stop there. Our ground game delivered voters to the polls and defended them once they were there. That's why we were in courtrooms across the country, challenging laws and policies that served to prohibit eligible voters from casting ballots.

This election wasn't perfect. There were still far too many reports of voter disenfranchisement and harassment. There were still far too many problems with the inequitable distribution of resources that resulted in long lines, faulty machinery, insufficient ballots, and racially motivated voter challenges at polling locations in low-income and minority communities. There were still too many eligible voters who stayed home on Election Day. The election is over, and the result is incredible, but the movement has only just begun.

As we bask in the glow of Barack Obama’s stunning victory, we acknowledge that the battles are still many. Nonetheless, we have proof that an inspired nation can come together across racial, cultural, and generational boundaries to bring about even greater change.


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